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A small Norwegian town has just begun to win fame and wealth through its medicinal spring waters. Dr. Stockmann, resident physician in charge, discovers that the waters are poisoned. On receiving proof of this, he immediately reports to his associates, but is shocked to find that instead of being thanked, he is looked upon as a dangerous crank, motivated by a desire to prove that his fellow townsmen are wrong, and to bring ruin upon them. As the people who run the local paper do their utmost to urge secrecy and compromise, the determined doctor realizes that the honesty and idealism he has counted upon to make the truth prevail, simply does not exist in the face of selfish "practical" interests. The press will not report his findings; the officials refuse to give him a hearing; he loses his position and the townspeople boycott him; and every weapon of blackmail, slander, and eviction are brought against his family.